Wednesday, 28 October 2020
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

Amazon announced on Tuesday that it had hired 100,000 people ahead of the Christmas holidays, which confirmed the good business of the e-commerce giant.

These new fixed-term jobs have been added to the company’s major recruitment campaigns in recent months organized in response to an increase in online orders since the start of the pandemic. Amazon had more than 875,000 employees worldwide at the end of June 2020.

In late July, when announcing the results, the Seattle-based company said it had already created more than 175,000 jobs since March of which 125,000 would become permanent. In mid-September, it added another 100,000 jobs in the United States and Canada. Most of these are jobs in warehouses, in preparing packages and sending them.

In August, Amazon decided to hire 3,500 engineers, computer scientists and administrative staff in the United States. The company has made enough net profit to invest.

The situation in Amazon is the opposite of the situation in a number of large companies hard hit by the pandemic-related economic crisis. A month ago, multinational companies Disney, American Airlines and United Airlines shared 60,000 layoffs.

 

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The Dubrovnik-Neretva County saw over the past 24-hour period the highest number of new cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began with 70 recorded cases. The director of the Dubrovnik general Hospital, Marijo Bekić, discussed the situation in Dubrovnik on RTL.

On Tuesday, the Dubrovnik-Neretva County broke the record for the number of new Covid-19 cases. “That's the data for the last 24 hours. Yesterday we tested the most people so far, 230 people. Of that, 70 were positive, compared to last week when that number of tests was around 150-160. This means that one third of the total number tested were posiitve, which shows that the virus has spread quite a bit through the population," explained Bekić.

He added that “At the moment, we have 22 hospitalized patients at the Dubrovnik General Hospital, three of whom are in the intensive care unit, but they have not been intubated."

 

There can be little doubt that Croatia is one of the most photogenic countries in the world, if it were a model it’d be a super-model. It’s probably the diversity that is a key factor, combine snow-covered mountains, sandy beaches and dramatic weather conditions and you have all the ingredients to make a photographer’s mouth water.

And whilst Croatia is forgiving to amateur photographers, offering them the chance to take a glorious image, to really get the most out of the country you need some knowledge, inside knowledge if possible. This week we caught up with Jordan Banks, a photographer with not only a portfolio that includes National Geographic, Lonely Planet and The Sunday Times, but also unique local knowledge, Dubrovnik is close to his heart, in more ways than one.

Yorkshire-born Banks has recently been on a family/working trip to Croatia, a place that he once called home. Banks now lives in Berkshire in the UK.

You have strong connections to Dubrovnik and Croatia, how did they come about?

I was working in Marrakesh and had met some travellers who told me that I just had to visit Croatia. In fact, at the time I was looking to buy a property and decided to check out the real estate scene in Croatia. So basically I came to the country looking to buy property and headed to Dubrovnik rather blind to the beauty that awaited me. Funnily enough I ended up meeting my future wife whilst trying to find a home, she was the daughter of my real estate agent. This was back in early 2003. I was blown away with the city. A few years later I actually started actively working as a photographer in Dubrovnik and the rest of Croatia.

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Unspolit nature of Croatia - Photo Jordan Banks 

As a professional photographer how inspiring is Croatia for photographers?

Incredibly inspiring. Of course Croatia holds a special place in my heart, obviously I spent a long time living in the country and my wife is Croatian, as well as my children starting to speak two languages. You could say that my photography love affair with Croatia started with the old cities and the amazing architecture, the influence of the Old City of Dubrovnik, which for me is the most beautiful city in the world, clearly motivated my first images. In fact, many of the cities along the coastline are a dream for photographers, with the stone work, the crystal clear sea and soaring mountains to frame everything. Recently I have moved more into exploring the sights off the beaten-track. The unspoilt nature, the gorges and mountains, getting back to nature. And this has opened up another side to the country for me, it seems that for a photographer Croatia is a country that just keeps on giving. It truly is never-ending.

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Croatia is a country that just keeps on giving - Photo Jordan Banks 

How difficult did you find it working in Dubrovnik? Was there much competition in the photography industry?

Yes, at that time it wasn’t so easy finding work. It was challenging at the start. Everyone was really friendly but there was a fair bit of competition.

Generally, how tough is it to make a living as a photographer?

Yes, it isn’t easy. You’ve got to have a lot of natural talent to actually take the photos and then you need a lot of hard work to actually push through to the next level. I guess it’s like any job really, you need to work hard and concentrate and be prepared to be rejected a lot. I haven’t really done anything else, so I can only presume that the same is true for most jobs, if you work hard and are dedicated 100 percent to what you are doing then you’ll be fine. Rejection is just another part of the job. The profession kind of suits my lifestyle, I am never going to be living in a mansion and driving fast cars, but I will have travelled the world and seen and worked in some awesome places. Photography is more of a lifestyle job. One piece of advice that I would give is that you’ve got to have good contacts and be prepared to put yourself out there in the market and be forever hustling. I have just done a major job in Montenegro in a hotel resort and I got that job through my connections.

If you are ready to work and take anything on then you have a chance of making a living. Of course my ideal job would be shooting an editorial for National Geographic or Lonely Planet where I am left to my own devices, but life doesn’t work like that.

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The hidden beauties of Croatia - Photo Jordan Banks 

And you came back to Croatia this summer to create, amongst other things, a coffee table book. Do people still buy coffee table books?

I would say yes, especially in tourist locations. I want the book to be really special. If I just did yet another coffee table book, then probably there wouldn’t be as much interest. I want to stand out from the crowd. I think that such a book would open a lot of eyes as to the hidden beauties of the country. I originally came with a plan was to put together a story book to pitch to a magazine, maybe look into calendars and books in the future. Trying to actually get under the skin of Croatia. There was a lot I’d seen over the years, but there was also an awful lot that I hadn’t. So I wanted to spend some time doing some of the lesser known highlights of Croatia. Trying to explore more into the country.

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Getting a fresh perspective on Croatia - Photo Jordan Banks 

Are you concentrating on landscapes or portraits in Croatia, what images of the country are you trying to capture?

I would class it as travel documentary. So it includes landscapes and the people of the country. I also used a drone a lot this time. So much of Croatia is absolutely perfect for drone photography. Drone photography has really come on in the photography industry and I wanted to get a different perspective of the spectacular nature.

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So much of Croatia is perfect for drone photos - Photo Jordan Banks 

Because of the rise of social media everyone is a budding photographer. Is social media affecting that amount of work you are getting?

No, not really is the short answer. There was a time when it all started when there were stories about people making millions from social media and being influencers. But the reality is when you go to professional picture buyers they can see that many of these photos on social media are unoriginal and even copied. Big publications and big tourist boards are really looking for professional photographers, and are looking to use people who have a body of work with major companies behind them. If anything I have got more work since the rise of social media. In fact, I use social media like Instagram as a research tool, and it has proved very useful. If I get a job in Bali I can’t go there for two-weeks before hand to get the lay of the land and find the best angles and best times of day for shooting, however Instagram helps me research some ideas. For example, I was supposed to be doing a job in New England this autumn, so I followed some Instagram accounts from the region so that I’d know when autumn hits, so then I could jump on a plane and be there in the height of it.

Follow Jordan’s stunning work via his website www.jordanbanksphoto.com or check out his workshops and photo tours at www.thatwildidea.co.uk

 

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In the last 24 hours, 1,413 new cases of Covid-19 infection were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is a total of 11,311, according to this morning’s statement from the Civil Protection Headquarters.

Unfortunately, over the past 24-hour period a further 18 people passed away due to Covid-19.

There are currently 897 people in hospital across the country, and 57 people on a ventilator.

Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 38,621 people have been infected with the new coronavirus, of which 470 have died, a total of 26,840 people have recovered, of which 1,003 in the last 24 hours.

There are currently 27,720 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 457,726 people have been tested, of which 8,185 were tested in the last 24 hours.

 

In the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, 70 new cases of coronavirus infection have been recorded in the last 24 hours. These figures represent the worst day for new Covid-19 cases in the county since the pandemic began.  

These new cases include 16 males and 14 females from Dubrovnik (14 have an established connection), eight males and eight females from Metković (eight have an established connection), four males and five females from the borough of Župa (six have an established connection), one male and one female from Ston (one has an established connection), two males from Korčula, Orebić and Ploče (for all established connection), two males from Opuzen (for one established connection), one female from Smokvica (established connection), one male from the Dubrovacko Primorje and Mljet, one female from Blato and one female who does not reside in our county.

27 people have made a full recovery - 19 from Dubrovnik, five from Metković and three from Župa.

21 people tested positive for coronavirus are currently hospitalized in the Dubrovnik General hospital. In the last 24 hours, 234 samples were processed, and since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 18,478 samples have been analysed.

There are 828 people in self-isolation, and in the last 24 hours there have been no violations of the self-isolation measure.

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The Minister of Culture and Media, Nina Obuljen Koržinek, expects that the proposal for a new Law on Electronic Media will be presented at the Government session in two weeks. After that, the legal proposal will be sent to the Parliament.

“The draft bill passed a public consultation that lasted until March 5 and due to the circumstances caused by the pandemic was not sent earlier for further procedure. The proposed Law on Electronic Media will transpose the provisions of the revised Directive on audio-visual media services regarding the changing situation on the market into the national legislation of the Republic of Croatia” stated the Ministry of Culture and Media reports, reports Jutarnji list.

The proposed law is very unpopular with the public, especially media houses, but in the process of public consultation during which more than 600 remarks were made, i.e. proposals to improve the law, of which many proposals were rejected in their entirety. Some of them were crucial for media publishers.

“The proposed new Law on Electronic Media differs significantly from the current one, and in general the Association of Newspaper Publishers of HUP estimates that it makes the work of providers of electronic publications significantly more difficult. This actually jeopardizes the freedom and independence of the media, which is their primary task in accordance with the provisions of the Media Act. The Law on Media prescribes what media freedom means, what is the role of the media and what are the limitations of the media. These restrictions have been significantly tightened with this proposal to amend the Electronic Media Act. Publishers see the biggest problem in prescribing publishers' liability for comments. Namely, for the first time, the publisher's responsibility for readers' comments is explicitly prescribed, which could consequently lead to lawsuits for damages regardless of the provisions of the Media Act,” - say in the Association of Newspaper Publishers.

Namely, Article 93 of the Law on Electronic Media proposes "the responsibility of the provider of electronic publications for the entire content, including that generated by the user". In other words, editors and media owners can also be punished for a comment, for example, for comments that incite violence, which are published below journalistic texts on portals, and most often by anonymous persons.

Boris Trupčević, president of the executive board of the association, adds that "when it comes to the responsibility of publishers for readers' comments, domestic publishers in the domestic market are placed in an unequal position in relation to global Internet platforms."

“Local participants are asked to practically find a solution to problems that even global giants fail to solve. Paradoxically, the outcome of such a solution could be a ban on commenting and indirect additional strengthening of global platforms,” says Trupčević.

 

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The EU executive has sounded a warning shot to Croatia over the development of 5G technology in the country. In a recent interview with EURACTIV, the EU made it clear that any member states who had yet to introduce 5G networks in at least one major city would be in breach of European Union law. Online casinos are set to benefit the most as the adoption of 5G and mobile technologies is critical to their operations. However, the boost to the digital casino sector could also permeate throughout Croatia’s economy and help others.

Digital Casinos & Other Online Businesses

The development of mobile technologies is bound to help all online businesses since fifth-generation software is more powerful, reliable and wide-reaching than WiFi. Online casinos stand to gain the most from the news the EU is pushing Croatia’s leaders to act, since greater adoption of high-speed internet means a greater pool of gamers. Apart from the likes of online scratchcards and casino games which are optimised for mobile play being quicker to run, a lot of other online services, such as video and music, will be easier to view or download as a direct knock-on effect. This is because the technology will allow better access to all online companies, democratizing business. As a result, companies should experience a broader reach and fewer obstacles, encouraging the eCommerce industry to flourish.

Digital Nomads

Digital Nomads are people who only require a fast internet connection to work. Obviously, a boost to Croatia’s internet infrastructure will allow them to earn money regardless of their location, and this will be the case once 5G pioneer frequencies are assigned to operators. Croatia is expected to be a welcoming home for them because the requirement to get on board with the EU’s 5G Action Plan is twinned with the Foreigners Act. The FA is a proposal that is aimed at tourists, particularly those who plan on traveling and earning money in the country. The act on its own might not be enough for millennial nomads; however, the fact that online casinos and other big businesses are adopting 5G will make fifth-gen software less avoidable and hopefully extend its permeation, which could lead to freelancers using Croatia as their work base.

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Digital Citizens

Unfortunately, the internet capabilities in Croatia aren’t up to the same standard as the rest of Europe, yet it’s not as if the demand is lower. Internet traffic in Q2 increased by 50% compared to the same period in 2019. Data traffic for mobile phones was 58% higher in April this year relative to April 2019. However, outages are common, with Hrvatski Telekom encountering a major problem that led to telecommunication shortages at the beginning of October. The good news for Croatian citizens is that the advancement of 5G capabilities should limit future downtime and bring the nation up to speed with local demand.

Several groups will benefit from the EU’s 5G Action Plan, but it might be Croatia itself that profits the most.

 

Peter Greenberg, a multiple Emmy award winner, editor-in-chief of CBS Travel, renowned investigative journalist and top tourist expert, is staying in Dubrovnik from October 24 to 27, where he will be filming one of the most successful American travel shows "The Travel Detective". This is a guest appearance realized in cooperation between the Croatian Tourist Board and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board with one of the most popular and most watched American TV channels PBS, on which this famous show is broadcast.

"Maintaining visibility, but also the targeted promotion of Croatia as an attractive and safe tourist destination is extremely important in these circumstances. I am sure that the effects of the show will be very positive and that our country, together with Dubrovnik, will be even more attractive to the millions of American as a safe and well-prepared tourist destination", said the director of the Croatian Tourist Board, Kristjan Staničić.

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The well-known presenter and journalist was greeted by the director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Ana Hrnić, who welcomed him and emphasized the importance of promoting Dubrovnik on the American market. "Recording a show of this kind is extremely important for our promotion in the very important American market, and we hope that the improvement of the epidemiological situation in the future will increase the number of American tourists. The ASTA conference will be held in the city in December, which is an important step for tourism due to the crisis, and we believe that maintaining this conference is an optimistic and strong message to the entire travel industry," concluded Hrnić.

The show "The Travel Detective" is shown in the regular program of PBS non-commercial television, which in addition to the national program has 300 local TV programs with 70 million regular viewers, and their websites receive more than 15 million monthly visits.

In addition to the television show, "passenger detective" Greenberg will record radio shows for the CBS radio network, which has more than a thousand stations across the United States, during his four-day stay in Dubrovnik. In these shows, Greenberg, together with his guests, will participate in numerous activities and cover various topics from history, culture, art and gastronomy, and will visit many famous attractions, such as the city walls, the oldest quarantine Lazareta, the island of Lokrum, and the Pelješac peninsula where they will taste famous wines and oysters from Mali Ston.

 

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